I’ve been moving for as long as I can remember. I was born in Egypt. My cousins and I were five girls, all around the same age. We would do everything together. Always at my grandma’s, eating, laughing, running, playing, and falling asleep together. They were my best friends, my sisters. They were pieces of my soul. My aunts and grandma were all my mothers. Life was perfect in a way my young brain couldn’t begin to understand. Then when I was 6 years old my dad got a better paying job in Qatar, and we had to leave. That was the first move. I remember as we got in the cab, watching my family in the balcony waving us goodbye, and many had tears streaming down their faces. Having been that young, I didn’t quite understand the depth of the pain they were feeling until I felt it later. We left for Qatar, but my heart never stopped missing Egypt. We would go back every summer and everyone would cry when it was time for us to fly back. Those few months of summer, where I would be reunited with my cousins and family, would make me feel like I was coming alive again. And then we would leave again, and the cycle would carry on. I would be counting the days until the next time we go to Egypt. Little me stared at the calendar, praying time would just go a little faster, so I can smell my grandma’s cooking again, talk about life with my cousins, and play with my uncles.
As the years went by, I created amazing friends in Qatar. My school friends became my everything, although the pain of missing home was always lurking in the background. I grew to love my friends in Qatar, and they proceeded to become my second family. After all, we watched each other grow up, and went through the pains and laughs of becoming teenagers together. Now, we would all do anything to be there for each other.
University application time came in, and like everyone else, I applied all over. I then got my acceptance from McGill. It was by far the best university I had gotten into, so naturally I accepted. I knew I was going to be sad. I knew I was going to miss my family and friends, but I would be lying if I said my excitement wasn’t through the roof. I couldn’t wait to see what this new life had in store for me, and I came to Montreal eager and ready to pursue my dreams. Over time, the loneliness and missing my family and friends would sometimes get too overwhelming. Qatar was now home, and where I would go for winter break. I thought about it constantly, especially over my first and second year. Breakdowns became a routine, as I would think about everyone I’ve left behind. Now it’s not just my cousins, it’s my mom, dad, and my sister. Needless to say, I really missed my friends. My few weeks in Qatar during the winter holidays would sometimes feel like a break from reality, like me getting a few moments of my childhood back. I knew I would never be able to make childhood friends again, and I was so scared of losing them over time as we spent more and more years apart.
As the months and years went by, I got used to the pain of missing, and I made some wonderful friends here in Montreal who became my family away from home. I love the strong, beautiful friendships I’ve created. I found myself surrounded by people that made me feel good, happy, and safe. I am so thankful to the universe for giving me a home here.
Now I’m in my last semester and I’ve gotten a job offer in Vancouver for a job that will start after I finish my semester. I’m moving again. I’m starting over again. I want to be excited, but it’s too hard. My heart aches a little every time after I laugh, knowing I won’t be laughing with you in a few months. Knowing that I’ll be jumping into a life I know nothing about, and for the first time I’m not excited. I want to freeze time. I want to stay surrounded by the amazing people I’ve met. I want to stay in my cozy room, right next to my roommate and best friend’s room. I want to preserve the nights we spent talking about everything and nothing. I want to remain living 5 minutes away from my other friends’ houses. I want to stay protected by the fact that I am a student. I think McGill helps us in ways we don’t notice (i.e. job search, visa issues, housing advice, curriculum problems, and even financials). Whenever I have had an issue, I’ve gone to talk to someone at McGill and they almost always found a way to help me. There is always someone to ask for advice at McGill. I know McGill isn’t perfect, but they provide me with a sense of a safety net. And now, I’m going to be out there alone, except there won’t be a McGill to turn to. There won’t be my roommate to laugh and cry with. I won’t have the long nights I pulled studying and laughing with my friends. And finally, I won’t have the innocence and dreams I came into university with.
I’ve decided to stay hopeful. I know I’m not the first or last person to move away after university. I’m trying every day to envision a future where I am happy, a future I look forward to. After all, “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all” (Emily Dickinson).